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Farewell to Postmodernism

Social Theories of the Late Left

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Bartosz Kuzniarz

In the late 1960s, a whole pantheon of thinkers regarding themselves as radicals stole a part of the anarchic praxis of late capitalism, turned it into philosophy, and with the resulting set of views turned against the foundations of the system in a purportedly radical gesture. Postmodernism was the name for the superficially revolutionary culture which then came into existence. The thought of the late left appears as the subsequent response to the cunning of the system.
The main figures of Farewell to Postmodernism are Perry Anderson, David Harvey, Fredric Jameson, Terry Eagleton and Slavoj Žižek. The book provides an encyclopaedic introduction to their work, while at the same time seeking to grasp the current trajectory of radical thought.
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Chapter One: Perry Anderson: Chronicle of a Certain Death

Extract

Chapter One

Perry Anderson: Chronicle of a Certain Death

If I could at last tell you what is in me,if I could shout: people! I have lied by pretending it was not there,It was there, day and night. (…)This. Which signifies knocking against a stone wall and knowing thatThe wall will not yield to any imploration.

Czesław Miłosz, “This”

There’s a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

If one wished to point to a single institution that has had the greatest significance for the development of western Marxism over the last twenty years, it would probably have to be the London journal New Left Review (hereinafter NLR). The publication began in 1959 as a merger of two previous journals of the English left, New Reasoner and Universities and Left Review. In 1970, NLR started New Left Books (now Verso, with offices in London and New York). It soon managed to gather around it a group of the most distinguished leftist intellectuals. Thanks to the articles published in NLR, along with dozens of books and translations published by Verso, they succeeded in making the core of the Marxist tradition more accessible to English-language readers, becoming for leftist culture on the cusp of the twenty-first century what the journal Die Neue Zeit had been during the Second International.

For almost a quarter of a century, the editor-in-chief and most...

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